Adair County Water District customers will soon have to pay more for their water service. While price increases will vary, those who use large amounts of water will get the brunt of the extra costs.
Farming and commercial operations use thousands of gallons of water a month and they will see substantial increases.
Adair County farmer Brad Burton owns a 250-acre dairy farm in Holmes Bend with over 400 head of cattle. His water bill is currently between $1,100 and $1,200 a month.
“I just think a little bit would’ve been okay,” Burton said. “I wouldn’t have any problem. But 30 percent, to me that isn’t right.”
Burton estimated that his farm in Holmes Bend would pay around about $300 more a month.
His family also operates four other farms throughout the county.
“I’ve never been one to complain about something but that’s quite a bit of money to take away,” Burton said. “That’s a lot of money to take from anyone.“
Adair County Water District Manager Lenny Stone said a farmer could see around $77 more on their monthly bill. An average bill for a residential customer would pay around $4.55 extra a month.
In Adair County, there are more than 1,400 different farming operations. While farms vary in size, dairy and poultry operations rely on large amounts of water.
Stone researched one of the largest farms in the county and estimated that a farm that uses around 500,000 gallons a month would pay $650 more.
Under the new rates, the minimum bill for a residential customer is $19.90. For the same amount of water, the minimum bill for county residents serviced by utilities in Jamestown is around $18 and around $19 in Campbellsville.
REASON FOR RATE INCREASE
The Adair County Water District increased its water rates after applying for a loan through USDA Rural Development to pay for recent improvements throughout the county.
These improvements include projects in Knifley, downtown Columbia, Sparksville and work on the generator at the water plant. The Community Voice requested a breakdown of costs for each project and loan amounts from Stone but has not received those numbers yet.
When the district applied for the loan, USDA set rates based on the loan amount and the district’s ability to pay it back.
The rate increase is based on what the USDA thinks is feasible, according to Andrew Meinykovych at the Public Service Commission.
The PSC received the petition for the rate increase on Jan. 13 and has until Feb. 13 to approve the increase. According to state law, Meinykovych said the PSC has no choice other than to approve the rate increase.
Because of the law, a public hearing is not required. Meinykovych said the PSC has no authority to change those rates or alter them in any way.
The next water district board meeting is Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. at the water district office on Grant Lane. Board members are Larry Legg, Rudy Higginbotham, Raybon “Toon” Burton, Danny Downey and Robert Flowers.
By Allison Hollon